Even From The Support Car, The Coast Ride Was Amazing

The idea of riding from San Francisco to Santa Barbara, on The Coast Ride, has been on my must-do list for quite some time, but sadly my radar just seems to always go into auto-forget mode after that first slice of Thanksgiving turkey. I would like to blame tryptophan but that wouldn’t be fair to the poor turkey.

It almost happened again this year until I was chatting with Jim about whether he was going to Cyclocross Nationals in Reno. “Not going because of the Coast Ride,” he said. I casually mentioned to him that I’ve always wanted to shoot the Coast Ride and he told me I could shoot it from the inGamba car. A very enticing offer indeed considering the logistics were all taken care of, and an assistant wouldn’t forever hate me for hiring them on for the sole purpose of driving really, really slow along the California coast.

But what about cyclocross nationals in Reno? I mean RENO! It’s so close I can almost make it a day trip. I could even shoot for a day and spend some time on the slopes with the family. But a supported Coast Ride, or embed as I would call it, was pretty hard to turn down, so I agreed. Perhaps the predicted warm SoCal weather played a part in the decison as well.

(Full Disclosure: E co-founder Jim works for inGamba and in such that they provided me with a spot in the team car to shoot from, a bed to sleep in, and fed me whenever it was time to eat in exchange for a few snappies.)

After the wife and kids dropped me off in Sausalito early Saturday morning, it was time to work. Since I was neither staff, nor a riding guest, and I didn’t know anyone other than recognizing a few from the social medias, I was largely on my own. But that was perfectly fine. I was able to shoot uninterrupted. Or as they say in journalism school, I was a fly on the wall.

Coast Ride 2018
Former world time trial champ and Ventoux winner Eros Poli doing a quick pre-ride briefing.

Support staff was already busy loading the cars and making last minute adjustments while riders were getting ready. We were off just as the first light of the day popped out of the sky. The team cars crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, reconnected with the riders, rolled past the Legion of Honor and off on our journey barreling along the coast with a few hundred other riders.

Coast Ride 2018
Rolling along Ocean Beach

Life in a support car can be a pretty mundane affair but there was never a dull moment this time as mechanicals, flats, and tired bodies appeared as soon as we strolled past Lake Merced. We saw riders that ran out of juice in their Di2 battery, a dude that flatted on a Lightweight tubular… with no spare, broken derailleur cables (PSA: replace them every season), and compromised tubeless tire sidewalls. Highway 1, as gorgeous and picturesque as it was, mercilessly consumed both riders and equipment, figuratively, of course. Don’t get me started on the amount of middle fingers we got along the route either. I stopped counting after 5 during the opening hours.

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Leaving the team hotel in Sausalito

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Manuel riding in the good light.

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Ralf picking up some warmers.

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Relaxing behind the team car.

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Lunch break.

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Somewhere between Santa Cruz and Monterey.

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Riding across one of many historic bridges along Big Sur.

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Mark taking a few snappies

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Climbing Loma Vista.

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Sweet socks, buddy.

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Ted on the rollers.

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The key is to stick together.

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We got chased by this cute dog near Lucia... and it kept running

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Special mid-ride snack

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Hugs before tackling Nacimiento-Fergusson Road.

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Raul and Katie descending towards the big climb.

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Fort Hunter Liggett is pretty damn sweet

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A couple of horses came by the RV to say hello in Lockwood.

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Loading up the bags for the final day into Santa Barbara

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Everyone's happy after Mark fixed his busted Di2.

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Andrew having a blast.

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Jim and Xico packing a guest's bike

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Almost done with the Coast Ride.

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Manuel chilling next to the team car.

Inasmuch as each Coast Ride participant had to go through their own version of sufferfest (we saw a guy on a singlespeed, true story), the view of the California coast and the camaraderie among riders made a huge difference turning the event from a shitty terrible idea to a fun one. Sure there were faces of people in pain, but there were also a ton of happy folks that seemed to be enjoying every bit of the ride, even on that monster 7 mile climb with 2,700 ft of climbing out of Big Sur on Nacimiento-Fergusson Road. High-fives, hugs, and encouragement floated around which made the miles all the better. Definitely a unique take on them there base miles.

Coast Ride 2018
Salt residues on Tony after his 159-mile epic.

For the inGamba crew, though, a lot of these concerns were taken care of. Two team cars, a van and an RV staffed with pro mechanics. Cold in the morning? Here’s an inflated latex glove to stuff under your jersey for warmth. Need a wheel change? Need to shed your warmers or need to stop? The team car was there. In fact, the team car was everywhere for the three day, 400+ mile journey.

Coast Ride 2018
Inflated latex glove to keep you warm.

Then, there was the world-class guides of Eros Poli, Manuel Cardoso, Raul Matias, and Ted King who seemed to ride on the front for hours, take a few photos with their phones, drop back to the team car, and then go right back to the front for more.

Coast Ride 2018
Manual and Raul in cruise mode.

The pro team treatment didn’t stop there though: Lunch and post-ride meals were ready to go at the RV. Recovery massages and suitcases were already awaiting inside each hotel room everyday. Bikes were also washed and checked daily.

Coast Ride 2018
Road side assistance

One memorable moments was when one of the guests missed the turn for the Nacimiento climb so the team car promptly turned around to fetch him back to the RV full of semi-worried, tired, but cheerful riders. On day three, the Di2 battery on one of the guest’s personal bike battery went out and instead of getting stranded in the middle of nowhere between Morro Bay and Santa Barbara, the team cars pulled up and gave him a spare bike – measured, adjusted and installed with the guest’s own pedals, saddle and a computer mount – all done from the side of a road. See, they really mean it when they say they want you to focus on riding your bike and nothing else.

Ted King Coast Ride Day 3
Ted, being Ted.

After three days of soaking up the inGamba x Coast Ride experience behind a camera from inside the team car, I most certainly would go with inGamba if I were to do the Coast Ride. Sounds like a paid statement, but no, I just want to ride and enjoy the view.

Coast Ride 2018
See ya again next year.

Grinduro Returns For 2018

Grinduro
Photo: Colin Meagher

You heard the fun. You’ve seen the gnar, the fun, the party.

The hype is real and Grinduro, a combination of gravel road race and mountain bike enduro, is coming back for 2018!

Two venues will be available: July 14 at the Isle of Arran in Scotland and on September 29 at Grinduro’s birthplace Quincy, California.

Both venues will follow similar formats featuring live music, a handmade bicycle and art show, camping, plus of course, a mixed terrain course with a bit of pavement, gravel, and dirt combined in one giant loop featuring four timed segments (five to seven minutes each) for the race.

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Grinduro Scotland. Photo: Satchel Cronk

It’s much more than a race, though. It’s the Super Bowl of bike parties or perhaps even the bike-specific version of Burningman.

Grinduro Quincy
Photo: Colin Meagher

Registration will open at  www.grinduro.com at 9am PST on January 2, 2018 for Grinduro Scotland and at 8pm PST on April 22, 2018 for Grinduro Quincy. Be warned, Grinduro Scotland sold out in 12 hours last year so mark your calendars!

Grinduro Quincy
Photo: Ian Stowe

I’ve never ridden in Chico

Photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly

I’ve never ridden in Chico… Until two weeks ago.

After the first day of introductions, a shakedown ride, a whole lot of names to remember and even more Sierra Nevadas involved, came the second day of Paul Camp in Chico, named and organized by none other than Paul Price of Paul Component Engineering.

The Paul. Photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly

I know, there are a lot of Paul’s in the previous sentence.

The plan for the day was to ride bikes. Precisely, custom handmade bikes made specifically for this one ride.

Pick a bike! Photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly

I was set up on a 27.5 drop-bar mountain bike built by Robert Ives at Blue Collar Bikes in Sacramento. Painted in bright candy red and adorned with just about every anodized blue component Paul makes out of his shop.

27.5 Monstercross by Blue Collar Bikes. Photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly

The bike was gorgeous as it was playful and surefooted to commandeer… very much like Ives himself, who was a welder at Ventana and Ibis before dabbling between his own bike company, a day job as a metal fabricator, and being super involved in a Pitbull rescue in town.

Photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly

“I want to build bikes that people can go out and get rad on,” said Ives when I asked him about his design as we slowly pedaled closer to Bidwell Park.

Photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly

Once we quickly treaded through the trails we rode on the previous day, it was game on. Although the post-ride strava revealed we didn’t climb a whole lot, I was getting reacquainted with rock navigation 101. It wasn’t that the trail was really gnarly, but let’s just say I was rusty while everyone else was in tip top shape.

Photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly

Whatevs, I was riding with a badass group of frame builders and their bikes. This must be the rideable version of NAHBS.

After a quick descent on the double track and ripping through the shrubbery (read: poison oaks), I made it to lunch.

Lunch. Photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly

It was a picnic by a Big Chico Creek. After what seemed to be an eternity of riding with no overhead covering, it was a much welcomed break.

River-cooled beverages for all. Photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly

But we had more to ride.

“Stop at parking lot P on the way back,” said Travis, one of Paul’s employee.

We did as we were told and out of nowhere, boom, came the view of the canyon. Definitely not huckable, but the size of the canyon was unexpected. It was amazing and for a second I wished I was at that sweet looking swimming hole at the bottom of the canyon.

Photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly

I spent the last few miles in and out of paved bike paths and parallel singletracks.

Photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly

Further down at the front of our dirt peloton, Adam from Sklar Bikes was giving Burnsey of Oddity Cycles and Maurice from Dirt Rag a quick tow. I quickly snapped a photo on my camera and that essentially summed up the entire laid-back rad nature of Paul Camp.

Burnsey of Oddity Cycles and Maurice from Dirt Rag getting a tow from Adam of Sklar Bikes
Photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly

Minutes later, Curtis from Retrotec ditched his bike and dashed into the water at Five Mile while Paul tried to hustle all of us back to the hotel. We weren’t done just yet!

Curtis from Retrotec going for a quick splash
Photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly

We had an appointment at Sierra Nevada.

It was a combination of a brewery tour, a handmade bike expo in the brewhouse, and dinner out on the patio. One of the attendees quipped, “This must be the biggest handmade bike gathering in Chico.”

Photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly

Forget the whole biggest handmade bike gathering thing. This must be the best bike party in Chico.

Photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly